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US FMC puts global regulatory spotlight on the P3 alliance

US FMC puts global regulatory spotlight on the P3 alliance
The US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is turning the regulatory spotlight on the P3 Alliance calling for a global summit with regulators from Europe and China.

Announcing plans for the summit the FMC expressed two primary concerns over the proposed global alliance of Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) and CMA CGM. First the potential impact on services to the US and the US-flagged fleet, and second the way in which the alliance appears to be at a stage of publicising its service plans and vessel deployments despite only having just started filing for regulatory approval.

The alliance requires approval from the US, European and Chinese regulatory authorities, and according to analyst Alphaliner applications only started to be made last week by the alliance. The proposed global regulatory summit in Washington DC would bring together regulators from the US, Europe and China to discuss the impact of the alliance.

“Together with our European and Chinese counterparts, we as regulatory authorities, have responsibilities related not only to our nations, but to the global shipping structure to ensure that this proposed Alliance does not harm others, including consumers, the maritime community, and world trade,” said FMC chairman Mario Codero.

In terms of the impact on container shipping services to and from the US FMC commissioner William Doyle, said: "One of my concerns relates to media reports that a combined east-west fleet of 346 vessels will be reduced to 255 vessels once the proposed alliance is consummated. I am interested in learning more about the impact this alliance will have on services provided to consumers, shippers and US terminal operations.’’

The reduction in the number of vessels also raised concerns over the impact on US-flag operations, with Maersk Line Ltd the largest US-flag operator. “I do not want the Alliance’s operations to harm or otherwise negatively impact the US-flag international fleet when decisions are made to cascade or otherwise eliminate ships from service," he said.

Last Thursday the alliance announced its planned service structure via a presentation posted on MSC’s website. The move to publicise the network before making full regulatory filings clearly was not appreciated by the commission.

"It is clear this alliance is moving forward as if it has already met regulatory approval despite the lack of any significant filing with regulatory authorities in Europe, China or the US,” said FMC commissioner Richard Lidinsky. “Pushing behind the scenes and placing positive stories with the press is not a substitute for proper consideration of the consequences of this massive carrier alignment."

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